As an introduction to the programs available at The Mane Intent, and to gain a better understanding of the offerings there, Jennifer took me through a few exercises as if I were a client. We began with a grounding exercise, to practice becoming aware of what we are feeling in our body, our emotions, pressures, and breath. Right off the bat, this awareness exercise had me intrigued. This is an important exercise used to prepare for what was to come.
Next I met the herd of charismatic, personality filled horses. Because of my background with horses and the 13+ years I have had handling them, I am naturally very comfortable working with these large powerful animals. I expected this next exercise to be easy for me as it was all about meeting the horses and seeing which ones I clicked with. I was surprised to discover the nature of the exercise to be different than what I was expecting. While approaching the horses they were observing my behaviour, body language and emotional energy, and in turn reacting through small gestures, but ones that in the past I had never recognized. This new found awareness that I had of my body and my surroundings allowed me to recognize how my energy was being anticipated, sensed and responded to by the herd. I approached several of the horses and found a connection with a particularly large gentle giant.
Samson was lying in a vulnerable position which made me hesitant to approach him but with time I managed to become very close to Samson and on my final step toward him he lay his head right down into the dirt and let out a sigh. A trust was created between myself and Samson as he lay in the most vulnerable of positions with complete trust in me as I stood beside and a return trust I found in him. At this moment I knew – no, I truly felt the wonderful purpose of the work that occurs at The Mane Intent.
The rest of my morning consisted of exercises used to set boundaries between yourself and the horse and in turn gain a mutual respect. For this, Mystic Mel and I worked together to develop a shared respect for boundaries. An entirely different experience than meeting the herd, this exercise allowed me to explore my comfort levels and gain confidence in setting boundaries. Jennifer explained the importance of boundaries, which allowed for an even greater understanding and a true involvement in the activity.
I can truly say as a horse lover that Jennifer facilitated a powerful experience for myself as someone who is extremely comfortable around horses. The experience that someone with no horse background would have, in my mind, would be at an even greater level, as simply interacting with horses themselves for the first time can bring great joy and a deeper understanding of ourselves as a person. Accompanied with Jennifer’s facilitation of exercises in a beautiful environment of non-judgement and support, the benefits of this work are incredible.
There is so much to learn from horses. The Mane Intent offers a truly unique experience to learn from horses as coaches. I am thrilled to be here and very excited for the experiences I will have here this summer.
About the Author: Juliana Newport is a summer intern supporting the experiences and programs offered at The Mane Intent Inc. She has just finished her third year as a Psychology Student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.